Sunday, February 3, 2019

Why I like to joke about shit...

Why do some people find farts hilarious and others are revolted by them? I’m certainly the former. So is my wife. Not sure if that's a good thing or not yet, but, as a once revered comedian said on the subject; “I’ve never heard a fart that I didn’t laugh at”. Unfortunately for him, his career disappeared like a fart so he’s probably not the best person to help sell my case. Somebody who may though, is the psychoanalyst, Julia Kristeva, and her theory of abjection.

We seem to be the only mammals that experience disgust. Why is that? Some suggest that it must be closely related to self consciousness, an attribute that separates us from animals. And what constitutes the self? The old subject/object debacle. According to Kristeva, and her psychoanalyst forefathers, we start to develop self consciousness as a baby when we realize we are no longer an extension of our mother. This is evident when we start to spit out breast milk. We are beginning to display independence. Rejecting the mother as object and beginning to recognize our own subjectivity. And If you think about feces it falls into a category somewhere between subject and object. It was once you but now no longer is. It came from your body just as once you came from the maternal body. Part of you has been discarded. You reject this part of you with disgust and revulsion. But ultimately, your identity is formed in blood, urine, and fecal matter at birth. You come out screaming your little head off. It must be a horrifying experience which, to my mind, it’s imperative that it must be repressed to avoid psychological scaring.

Now we all know that there are different ways of masking discomfort. Some people use humor to cover over their darkest anxieties. We need only look at the many famous comedians who had mental breakdowns or ultimately killed themselves to see that their comedy was just a front. A way of dealing with the complexities of life. I certainly see myself as the type of person who tries desperately to extract the humor in a situation lest I have to take it seriously. Maybe that behavior is an attempt to reconcile with the absolute horror of being born a bloody shitty horrible mess. 

Could it be that this disgust some show whenever they hear about shit, piss, puke, farts and jizz, is ultimately because those things are just dead matter, and, in the end, we will also just be dead matter. I think this dilemma lies in the unconscious mind and resurfaces through art or fetishes. Most don't think about it too deeply. Most don't think about it at all. They reject it with abject horror. Some of us just make jokes about it, trying to allude to the elephant sized shit in the room! 

The difficulty distinguishing between instinctual good advice and fear of failure

I went to a Stanley Kubrick exhibition in LACMA once and the one thing that really stuck with me was a piece of advice he was giving to some...